Leaders must sublimate themselves to the needs of others.  Superior leaders are committed to the organization’s mission, more than their individualistic needs and are prepared to sacrifice themselves for the higher purpose.

Donovan Campbell

Donovan Campbell

So writes Morgan Witzel, a fellow at the Center for Leadership Studies at the Exeter University School of Business in his Financial Times review of Donovan Campbell’s interesting read, “The Leader’s Code.”  Previously, Mr. Campbell wrote “Joker One: A Marine Platoon’s Story of Courage, Leadership, and Brotherhood” about his experiences as a leader of a platoon involved in counter-insurgency.  [Audio Here]

The author, Mr. Campbell, a former Marine Corps captain who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, begins by persuasively arguing that people no longer trust their leaders, whom they see as greedy and selfish, Mr. Witzel writes. 

“The widespread destruction of trust has left a leadership vacuum that is slowly becoming filled with despair.”  The author contends that this is true in business and government alike.

Mr. Campbell argues that the military style of servant leadership, whereby the leaders are the servants of the organization they lead, not its masters, is a useful guide for business leaders of today, Mr. Witzel writes.

To get things done, Mr. Campbell argues, leaders must build relationships of trust with others.  Much of today’s business reporting on leadership focuses more on process and insufficiently addresses the foundation of moral purpose, Mr. Campbell believes.

As I wrote in Monday’s blog, trust is not a one-way street.  Leaders must regularly reassess what they are doing – thought, word and deed – to continue to earn the trust of those they lead.

Military commanders know and understand this.  Officers are taught this immutable truth from day one.  Understanding this, I am always amazed at the reluctance of many healthcare organizations to hire military officers as they attempt to transition to civilian leadership. 

It should be a major part of civilian graduate education programs.